Ball season is officially upon us, bringing a welcomed dose of glitz and glamour into our lives as we head into the winter months. From charity galas to school balls, these black tie soirees are the sartorial highlights on any social calendar and present us with the perfect occasion to embrace all things fabulous and frivolous.
It’s safe to say that a little (or a lot of) sparkle can never go amiss on a ball dress. It’s not everyday do we get to the opportunity to dress in head-to-toe glitter —much to our dismay — so naturally, we’re strong advocates for shimmering eveningwear ensembles. For ultimate glamour points, a floor-length gown made from opulent fabrics like silk taffeta, metallic jacquard or sequins is the way to go. One show-stopper that we’re drawn to is this shimmering number from iconic eveningwear store, Modes. The rich, shimmering fabric paired with a dramatic cascading skirt practically oozes opulence and makes it an ideal option for the most lavish of soirees.
If you fancy incorporating a healthy amount of glitz into your look while not wanting to go overboard on the sparkle, matte sequins are your saving grace. Like those on Juliette Hogan’s gorgeous Mattie dress, matte sequins will add just enough shine while staying understated. It goes without saying that balls are also the perfect time to bring out the embroidery, appliqué and beading-heavy garments we wish we could wear more often. Trelise Cooper is second to none when it comes to gorgeous embellished garments. With a sweet scalloped hemline and the label’s signature splashing of sequins, the Waltz on the Weekend dress is our top pick for a fun and sparkly dress to dance the night away in.
While balls and galas are the perfect occasions to sashay around in the most shimmery of garments, minimalist gowns can just as easily be your ticket to glamour. When it comes to simple eveningwear, the devil really is in the detail so looking for a gown that’s well cut with quality seams and panelling is a must in order for it to hang beautifully and look as chic as possible. Ponsonby-based label Miss Crabb’s range of ultra-versatile dresses are perfect for the modern and minimalistic ball-goer. Our pick for this season is the gorgeous Lucidity dress that comes in a range of gorgeous colours from lilac to bright red. With its bias neckline, diamond panelling and adjustable belt waist, it’s the height of simple chic — not to mention this detailing will lend itself perfectly to 20s and 30s themed soirees.
Leave Her Wilder boasts a great range of bridesmaid jumpsuits and dresses that are perfect for stunning yet simple eveningwear. Every one of their garments is proudly New Zealand made using ethically sourced fabrics and they each come in an array of colours. The Antalya Moon Dress’ mix of long and short proportions makes it our top pick for a simple garment that will not only look stunning on your big night, but can also be easily reworked into other looks far beyond the occasion.
For classic, feminine and impossibly pretty evening gowns, Celine Rita is one of our go-to designers. With a focus on elegant silhouettes and fabrics, the romantic-dresser is sure to find something to tickle their fancy here. Our top pick from the collection is the classic Pieta gown with a dainty nipped-in waist and low back. Best of all it comes in both long and short styles and in all kinds of fabric from a beautiful chiffons to pearly silks (our favourite) so there’s plenty of options to suit every taste and occasion.
Long sleeves and hemlines may be traditionally associated with more modest looks, however Hailwood’s floor-length Velvet Robe dress is proof that covering up can certainly still be stunning — and a little bit sultry. A plunging neckline and Jolie-esque leg slit paired with long proportions is an elegant match made in heaven for channeling vintage glamour — not to mention it’ll keep you warmer in the cooler months and is more likely to stay put while you dance the night away!
On the flipside, a cute cocktail dress is great for soirees where the exact dress code is a little uncertain. Choosing one with a touch of bling or unique detailing, like Zambesi’s Armour dress is a great way of ensuring you’re right in the sweet spot between being too casual or formal. Cut-outs are also another way of adding a touch of je-ne-sais quoi to a simple look. A style we’re particular loving is Modes’ white trumpet-sleeved gown with its unique back cut-outs. Both simple and sculptural, it’s perfect for the modern and avant-garde dresser.
While dresses may be the go-to wardrobe choice for women’s black tie dressing, long gowns and billowing ball dresses aren’t the only option for belles of the ball. A sharp, tailored lady tuxedo is a perfect option for an outfit that’s both classic and modern. As well as being a guaranteed head-turner, the tailored lady suit lends itself to a next to an endless array of accessorising, hair and makeup possibilities. From revving up the glam-factor with eye-catching statement jewels to keeping things classic with sleek winged liner and red lippy, adding your personal touch to a lady suit is a breeze.
Another alternative to a traditional ball dress is mixing and matching separates to create a dress-like eveningwear ensemble. One of our favourite mix and match combinations is Amber Whitecliffe’s gorgeous Rona Singlet and Wrap. Not only do they look gorgeous paired together, they can seamlessly lend themselves to other outfits far beyond the special occasion. Let’s also not forget the classic jumpsuit as another superb alternative to a ball gown. There’s almost no going wrong with a jumpsuit: they’re often equipped with an always-welcome pocket or two, there’s one out there to suit every shape and style, and they make moving around the dance floor a breeze — what’s not to love? On the top of our eveningwear jumpsuit love-list is none other than Yvonne Bennetti’s stunning Wren jumpsuit. With a daring plunge neck and a healthy amount of sequins, it’s safe to say that you’ll have all eyes fixed on you when rocking this little number.